Confirmed Meteor Entry Southeast of Valencia, Venezuela. No Land Impacts.

Image the possible meteor entry, near San Francisco de Tiznados, Venezuela.

February 9th 2019 Update: The vice president of the Integrated System of Civil Protection and Firefighters of Carabobo, Jacobo Vidarte, said that, after an inspection by different areas of the region, no evidence of the fall of a supposed meteorite was found.

Vidarte said that in 12 of the fourteen municipalities of the entity, people saw an object in the sky , without being able to determine what it was. “The sighting is confirmed , less in Puerto Cabello and Juan José Mora. It was also confirmed in the state of Aragua. If they saw it from Aragua and from Carabobo to the south , it is evidently oriented towards the northern central part of the Venezuelan plains, that is to say in the Guárico state , but Carabobo has no certification of any area that has been impacted by an incandescent object.” (El Pitazo)


Initial Story

At approximately 7:15PM Saturday 9th February 2019, a meteor entered the Earth’s atmosphere, lighting up the sky across East-Central Venezuela.

Possible location, based on sightings and the GLM Instrument detection of flashes, of the entry location of the meteor in East-Central Venezuela.

There were several reports from people in Caracas, San Juan de los Morros, Villa de Cura, Valencia, Maracay and surrounding areas.

The GOES-16 Lightning Mapper (GLM) may have caught the flash from the meteor’s entry, as the rock burnt upon entering the atmosphere.

GOES-EAST Band 13: 10.3 µm (“Clean” IR Longwave Window) & GOES-16 Lightning Mapper (GLM), showing flashes detected away from clouds.

This meteor entered the atmosphere with relatively clear skies, and some low level clouds to the east of its entry location which were not producing thunderstorm activity. Hence, using the GLM instrument, it is a reasonable conclusion to assume that this was the flash of the meteor’s entry. This sort of detection is similar the usage of the GLM instrument, when it detected flashes over Cuba in early February, when meteorites struck western parts of the island.

What is more astounding from this event is the possibility that this meteor may have exploded within the atmosphere and meteorites may have landed in the open fields near San Francisco de Tiznados, Venezuela.

Venezuela, similar to Trinidad and Tobago, are experiencing a fairly dry, dry season. Hence, they too are experiencing an increased number of wild/bush fires across the country. However, in an area very near to to location of the possible entry location of this meteor, a fire was detected on the ground, near minutes after the meteor was detected.

GOES-16 RGB Fire Temperature (CIRA), which takes a combination of red, green & blue light to make a composition image that can detect unusually high land surface temperatures, indicative of fires.

It is important to note that it entirely within the realm of possibility that the embers from numerous fires to the east, have blown into this area and triggered a fire. There have been several reports on the ground of a fire in the area, but without clear indication that it was caused by a meteorite, it is difficult to ascertain the cause.

February 9th 2019 Update: The vice president of the Integrated System of Civil Protection and Firefighters of Carabobo, Jacobo Vidarte, pointed out that, minutes before the sighting, there was a vegetation fire in the Las Quintas de Flor Amarillo sector , which some users of the social networks linked with the supposed meteorite. The meteor left no structural damage, nor injured.

Meteor and meteorite strikes are more common than you might think. Dust-grain size meteoroids strike the Earth’s atmosphere almost constantly, but they often go unnoticed. Meteoroids between a millimeter and a centimeter burn up in the atmosphere and appear to us as shooting stars. Larger strikes are less common—a one-meter meteoroid strikes the Earth once each year on average and would reach the ground as smaller debris, while a 100-meter meteoroid strikes the Earth approximately every 10,000 years, according to a Tufts University fact sheet. Meteoroids over 1 kilometer hitting Earth are catastrophic events that occur every 1 million years on average.

Infographic: What’s the Difference Between a Comet, Asteroid and Meteor? Credit: Universe Today

Meteoroids do not discriminate where they land, nor where they enter the earth’s atmosphere. Hence, it is well within the realm of possibility that events such as this could happen across Trinidad, Tobago or any of the other Caribbean islands.

But medium-size strikes can be dramatic spectacles—and in some cases, dangerous. The Chelyabinsk meteor that struck southern Russia in February 2013 blew out windows and caused indirect injuries to almost 1,500 people.

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